Opening up the cabin is one of those hallowed rituals -- a trinity of sweat, Windex and mouse droppings -- that few family members have the courage to question, partly because who else would do this job?

Rhoda Mehl and Clare Riordan say they're up to it. The two local women are on the grass-cutting edge of concierge services, adding seasonal cabin opening and closing work to their business, Nook & Cranny. "We know it's going to be all about staycations this summer, so cabins will be getting more use," Mehl said. "And being present at work is really important these days, so people don't want to spend their vacation doing chores."

Mehl and Riordan founded Nook & Cranny seven years ago in Minneapolis as a housecleaning service. That evolved to add errand-running, which morphed into everything from sending out a client's Christmas cards to finding a wedding caterer. Now they call their business a "home management service," and this spring they decided to extend their reach to people's summer getaways.

For those who want to dive into the hammock upon arrival, Nook & Cranny will do such tasks as wash linens and make beds, turn on the utilities, shop and stock cupboards, deep-clean the cabin, make sure there's charcoal for the grill, check the gutters and chimneys -- all that fun stuff. The chore list is personalized to each client, and is for seasonal opening and closing services only.

They're aiming to stay within 200 miles of Minneapolis for now, expecting the most interest from around Brainerd, Detroit Lakes and Two Harbors in Minnesota, and Hayward and Siren in Wisconsin. A $500 deposit will reserve the day, with final costs depending on the chores needed. Mehl expects most jobs to cost $800 to $1,500, figuring it would take about 16 hours for a team of two to bring a cabin up to arrive-and-relax condition.

To learn more, go to or call 612-823-2018.

Kim Ode • 612-673-7185